QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, April 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AEterna Laboratories Inc. (TSX: AEL ; NASDAQ: AELA) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Zentaris GmbH and Ardana Bioscience, a specialty pharmaceutical company, from Edinburgh, Scotland, have signed a new agreement for the LHRH antagonist Teverelix. Ardana acquired full global rights and is assigned the intellectual property relating to Teverelix and the underlying microcrystalline suspension technology. In return, Zentaris receives a substantial payment at signature, fixed annual guaranteed payments until 2006, as well as potential future income on sales of Teverelix.
As part of the agreement, Zentaris will provide certain development services and supply clinical samples to Ardana. Teverelix Phase I clinical trial evaluating a sustained release formulation for use in prostate cancer is nearing conclusion.
"We are delighted with the restructuring of the existing Teverelix collaboration in place with our Scottish partner", says Professor Dr. Juergen Engel, Chairman and Managing Director of Zentaris GmbH and Chief Operating Officer of AEterna. "It emphasises the commitment of Ardana towards a successful development of Teverelix. At the same time it allows for Zentaris to generate double-digit million Euro risk-free income in the short and mid-term, while also potentially profiting from a successful commercialisation of the product."
Dr Maureen Lindsay, Ardana Chief Operating Officer said, "We are delighted to have secured all global rights to Teverelix, such that we can reap the full benefits of its development and commercialization. Our strategy is to focus on drugs prescribed by specialist clinicians, a market we can service effectively with our planned specialist sales force. Teverelix fits neatly into this strategy and is central to our burgeoning research and development portfolio, which is on track to provide products that address five different indications in Phase III clinical trials by the end of 2005."
Mr. Gilles Gagnon, President and Chief Executive Officer of AEterna Laboratories Inc. added, "Ardana continues to be an important partner beyond Teverelix, also holding the worldwide rights to our Growth Hormone Secretagogue (GHS), another project from our promising pipeline. This significant transaction is a key step in the building of our strategic portfolio."
About Ardana Bioscience
Ardana Bioscience is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on reproductive health. It aims to become a leading source of clinical and commercial innovation in the $20 billion human reproductive health market, which is growing at 9% per annum. In addition to the androgen replacement therapy which will be launched in the UK in 2004, Ardana has a rich development portfolio including Chronodyne(R) (terbutaline) for endometriosis-related infertility (being developed in collaboration with Columbia Laboratories and LHRH analogs Teverelix and 'Leuprorelin' for a wide variety of reproductive indications. Ardana's therapeutic interests encompass androgen replacement, infertility, sexual dysfunction and obstetrics.
Since its inception, Ardana has raised pnds stlg 34.5 million in three funding rounds. Ardana investors include Merlin Biosciences Limited, MVM Limited (MVM), Techno Venture Management (TVM), ABN-AMRO Participates, 3i Group plc, ISIS Equity Partners plc, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership Ltd, Mitsubishi Corporation and Green Highlander, LLC. The company was created in July 2000 to commercialise research by the Medical Research Council (MRC)'s Human Reproductive Sciences Unit (HRSU) in Edinburgh, Scotland, which has been at the forefront of this area of research for the last 30 years. The MRC employs nearly 100 staff at the Unit, which currently receives total annual funding of pnds stlg 3.8 million.
For more information on Ardana, consult http://www.ardana.co.uk/
About AEterna Laboratories
AEterna Laboratories Inc. along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Zentaris GmbH, is a biopharmaceutical company with an extensive product portfolio, including two marketed products and 14 other product candidates under development in oncology, endocrinology and infectious diseases. Cetrorelix (Cetrotide(R)) is sold in the U.S., Europe and several other countries to the in vitro fertilization market, and is in Phase II clinical trials for endometriosis, uterus myoma and enlarged prostate (BPH). Miltefosine (Impavido(R)) is sold for black fever and has successfully completed a Phase III trial in parasitic skin disease. Neovastat(R) is in a Phase III trial for non-small cell lung cancer. Perifosine, the first orally-active AKT inhibitor, is in Phase II trials for multiple cancers. Several other clinical programs are underway with various potential development candidates, supported by a worldwide network of scientific and marketing partnerships. Furthermore, AEterna benefits from a discovery platform of 100,000 molecules, which is generating promising new compounds.
AEterna also owns 62% of its subsidiary Atrium Biotechnologies Inc. which develops and markets active ingredients and speciality fine chemicals in the health and personal care industry for the cosmetics, chemical, pharmaceutical and nutritional industries. Its international business network and portfolio of over 1,000 products sold to over 2,000 institutional customers and to over 36,000 physicians and other health care professionals, have generated significant growth in sales and earnings since the Company was founded in January 2000. In 2003, Atrium sales exceeded $120 million.
AEterna shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (AEL) and the NASDAQ National Market (AELA). News releases and additional information about AEterna are available on its Web site at http://www.aeterna.com/ .
This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to
the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act
of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and
uncertainties, which could cause the Company's actual results to differ
materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and
uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and
resources to pursue R&D projects, the successful and timely completion of
clinical studies, the ability of the Company to take advantage of
business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, uncertainties
related to the regulatory process and general changes in economic
conditions. Investors should consult the Company's quarterly and annual
filings with the Canadian and U.S. securities commissions for additional
information on risks and uncertainties relating to the forward-looking
statements. Investors are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking
statements. The Company does not undertake to update these forward-
AETERNA LABORATORIES INC.